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Among Bowie aficionados, the live recording from the Santa Monica Civic Center in 1972 ranks as perhaps the best document of the Spiders from Mars at their peak, certainly outranking the Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture soundtrack, which may have documented the band’s fabled final gig, but didn’t capture the band at full flight. This recording — frequently bootlegged, often popping up on semi-official releases, finally released officially by EMI in 2008 — does just that. Here, the Spiders sound otherworldly, lean yet monstrous, simple and lethal on “Hang on to Yourself” but majestic and dramatic on a ten-minute “The Width of a Circle,” flipping a hat to Jacques Brel via Scott Walker on “My Death,” then stripping down such grandiose Hunky Dory tunes as “Life on Mars?” to the essentials. The grand thing about Live in Santa Monica ’72 is that it doesn’t feel like a special gig: it may have been Bowie’s first American radio broadcast, but that’s secondary to how it feels like a snapshot of the band during its prime. It’s tantalizing to think that this is just how the band was in 1972 and that there may be plenty of other great performances never recorded. What’s special about this is that a night like this was indeed captured — and with each passing year this seems more and more like the best Bowie live album.

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine,


David Bowie-LIVE IN SANTA MONICA ’72 (2008)
320kbps MP3

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